You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Bee waggle dance key to post-op 'jetlag'

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 2/05/2016

The "waggle dance" of the humble honey bee has helped scientists understand why patients suffer sleep disturbance following surgery under general anaesthetic.

University of Auckland researchers used the bees to determine why patients lose track of time post-operation, a potentially serious issue that could affect moods, suppress the patient's immune system and slow down wound healing.

Associate Professor Guy Warman said bees had an inbuilt `sun compass' used to navigate, and the angle of their bodies in respect to the sun showed what time they thought it was.

They performed a "waggle dance" in the hive, he said.

However, when given anaesthesia, the bees suffered the same effects as post-operative jetlag.

"We anaesthetised bees for six hours and woke them at 3pm, he said.

"We watched the way they were flying with respect to the sun, and they behaved as if it was still 9am."

The researchers are investigating a possible solution - shining a bright light onto anaesthetised human patients in an attempt to reduce chemically-induced jetlag.

The bees study now being followed up with studies on mice, fruit flies and kidney donor patients.

Prof Warman will present his findings at the annual meeting of the Australian and New Zealand College of Anaesthetists in Auckland on Tuesday.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon